The IPAL module provides a free, open-source solution that allows students to use a mixture of web-enabled devices (laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc.) to respond to in-class polling through a Moodle module. Research shows that the greater student involvement obtained through polling increases student learning and provides immediate feed-back to instructors, allowing for better response to student needs. Using a browser on these devices each student can see the question posed by the professor and respond with an answer. We have also created the IPAL App for both the Android platform and for the iPhone platform, greatly facilitating the student login and response.
The teacher creates one or more ipal activities in one or more Moodle courses. Each ipal instance can be created with its own settings for anonymous or non-anonymous (the default) polling, for polling with or without (the default) using the IPAL App on smart phones, etc. (With anonymous polling the teacher cannot tell which response came from which student.)
Teachers use the IPAL module to create the questions they want to use for the polling. The creation of questions is identical to the creation of questions for a Moodle quiz. Any question created for IPAL can be used in a Moodle quiz and vise versa. Our module also provides ready-to-use peer-reviewed questions for the introductory physics course. The initial set of questions includes hundreds of questions from the ConcepTest questions authored by Physics Professor Eric Mazur and his group from Harvard University. These questions are housed at ComPADRE, a National Physics and Astronomy Digital Library (http://www.compadre.org/). The database will allow others to add questions for other courses/disciplines to this database of questions.
When the teacher is in class, the teacher goes to the desired ipal instance and, at appropriate times, sends out a question. Currently only multichoice, true-false, and essay questions are supported. As the students respond to the question, the teacher sees a display of the responses in real time. If the question is multichoice or true-false, the display is a histogram; if it is an essay question, the response from each student is displayed on a separate line on the GUI. Students may respond to the same question more than once and the display gives their latest answer. At any time the teacher can "stop polling" and no more responses are recorded until the teacher sends another question (which can be a different question or the same question sent again). Each time a question is sent the GUI starts with a fresh, clean display. The responses are displayed anonymously and the teacher can show or not show (as desired) the responses to the students if the teacher's computer is connected to a data projector. The teacher can also see a spreadsheet of the students' answers, identified by student name (unless the anonymous setting for that ipal instance has been enabled). This spreadsheet can be copied and then pasted into an external spreadsheet, such as Excel, if desired. The current version does not put any entry into the Moodle gradebook. Thanks to help from the Moodule group at the University of Jerusalem, this version provides an easy way to take attendance using ipal and the Moodle attendance module.
In-class polling is used in many disciplines, often with clickers or flashcards. IPAL provides a Moodle module to support this. Currently polling is most widely used in physics classes. IPAL provides an interface that allows teachers to easily obtain ready-to-use peer-reviewed questions for the introductory physics course. The initial set of questions includes hundreds of questions from the ConcepTest questions authored by Physics Professor Eric Mazur and his group from Harvard University. These questions are housed at ComPADRE, a National Physics and Astronomy Digital Library (http://www.compadre.org/). The database will allow others to add questions for other courses/disciplines to this database of questions.
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